VOLUNTEERS have received an award for making Uttoxeter Railway Station more attractive – just a week after its new safety bridge was branded a ‘monstrosity’ by nearby residents.
A new £1.4 million structure will replace crossings rated the second-most-dangerous in the Midlands when it becomes operational in November.
Those living in Willsford Avenue, from whose back gardens the ‘eyesore’ is visible, have raised concerns their house prices will plummet.
However, volunteers have been mitigating the effect of the ‘ugly’ bridge with their community garden work.
Their ‘complete overhaul’ of the station garden has now been praised by visiting assessors from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
In presenting the volunteers with a level three award, assessors measured ‘levels of community participation’, ‘environmental responsibility’ and ‘gardening achievement’.
The station garden formed part of the entry portfolio for Uttoxeter in Bloom and helped the town win a gold award.
The enthusiastic station gardeners have turned a previously-overgrown site into a ‘neat and tidy’ garden, which is ‘welcoming for passengers’.
Experts said there were a good mix of plants, from colourful summer and autumn bedding to planters filled with herbs, wild strawberries and other edible fruits.
The assessors also praised the volunteers’ work on the station mural for providing ‘added value’ to the transformation of the station.
Partnership project officer Faye Lambert said: “This is a great achievement for the very dedicated volunteers at Uttoxeter Railway Station, whose hard work is making a real difference for passengers.”
Andy Moore, head of stations for East Midlands Trains, said: “Our congratulations go to the team of fantastic volunteers at Uttoxeter, who have worked so hard to transform their station for all users. This is a real credit to them.”
The Post and Time reported last week that homeowners living near the station said the bridge was ‘way over the top’.
Willsford Avenue homeowner Dave Tanner said: “There’s not a lot we can do about it now but I’m quite dissatisfied with the way it’s turned out.
“I’m concerned about security as there doesn’t appear to be a gate installed yet and people will have easy access to our land.”
Another resident from the road, who asked not to be named, said: “I’ve just bought the place and, while I was aware they were building the bridge, I wasn’t fully aware of the sheer scale.
“You get a lot of kids skateboarding in the station car park in the early hours of the morning and, if they don’t lock the bridge, I’d be concerned about them coming over and keeping us awake at night.”